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Personalized Learning: Part 2

I began writing about my Personalized Learning plan back in October, shortly after it was introduced to the students. Now that the first quarter is over I’ve had a chance to evaluate the results and am starting to make some changes moving forward.

To quickly recap, during the first quarter, students were given a list of Learning Targets (skills) and were asked to set a goal of how many they would be able to show mastery of by the end of the quarter. To show mastery, students had to submit a video of themselves playing a song to demonstrate each skill. I suggested three songs that would work for each Learning Target, and also offered the option for students to choose their own song. In addition to the video, students also had to leave a written comment, explaining the skill that was mastered.  All videos and comments were to be turned in through Canvas, which is the new LMS my county has introduced. Students were given time during class and also were to use home practice time to complete the Learning Targets.


At the end of the quarter these are the results for my orchestra students:

  • 45% of the students thought they had met or exceeded their goals
  • 27% actually met their goal (meaning, the skill was correctly mastered and the comments were included)
  • 9% exceeded their goals
  • 30% did not have 1 video successfully completed

The thing that surprised me the most was the number of students who turned in a video and then NEVER went back to check the feedback to discover either the video was not correct or the comments were missing! Most thought that since the video was turned in the Learning Target was complete – even though I reminded them at the beginning of each class to check the feedback on any submitted videos. Many did not leave a comment, or did not leave an appropriate comment (they said something like, “I mastered playing Hot Cross Buns” instead of naming the skill, “I mastered playing songs with 3 notes”). I have not finished all of the calculations for the band students, but just glancing the percentages seem very similar.

There were several students who commented on the end of quarter evaluation that they enjoyed the freedom they had this quarter. Many seemed to appreciate having choices, which is exactly what I  hoped! Quite a few students also mentioned wishing they had more time to practice. I don’t know what the solution is for this. Maybe starting a lunch time practice club? Or something after school? I don’t know yet.

Things that made me smile: when asked if there was anything else they wanted to tell me, here were some heartwarming responses:

  • “I want her to know that I really like the new way she is doing things by letting people work at their own pace.”
  • “I have loved playing violin.”
  • “I enjoy playing with Mrs.Ducassoux because she pushes me to practice a lot so I can get better, and to love music as much as she does.”
  • “I would like her to know she will never know how thankful I am for this great experience.”

There were also some students who said they still feel lost, and need more help. Others who want more time working as a full group. Which is to be understood. Full group instruction is what they are used to, and what they are comfortable with.

My goals moving forward:

  • Be more deliberate about mini-lessons at the beginning of each class
  • Provide more opportunities for students to lead mini-lessons
  • Get students to understand that learning targets are skills, and not songs. Maybe during class have students verbalize the skill that is being practiced
  • Offer additional practice times during/before/after the school day
  • Conference with individuals more frequently to assess progress
  • Help students make and stick to a plan for completing their quarterly goals

So, I would say this project is a work in progress. Some things are going well, others need to be tweaked. But overall I think it’s on the right track. This is a huge change from the way I’ve done things in the past, and a huge change from the way I was taught. But George Couros reminded us in “The Innovator’s Mindset” to think about change this way:

“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”

This has the potential to be something amazing. I’m excited about what it can do for my students! clark-tibbs-367075


To read more about Personalized Learning, check out these posts: 

Personalized Learning: Part 1

Personalized Learning: Part 3, How it Works

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